CAMP WALKER, South Korea – A healthy dose of Ronald McLean touchdown runs combined with a “bend-but-don’t-break” defense helped keep Daegu alive, barely, in its bid for a third straight Far East Division II football title.
McLean rushed for four touchdowns Friday and the Warriors defense held Osan American to 113 yards and stymied the Cougars on two fourth-quarter drives as Daegu won its first game in four tries this season, 26-15.
“You see how hard he runs. He’s a legitimate running back,” coach Ken Walter said of McLean, who finished with 181 yards on 20 carries, including touchdown runs of 3 yards, 3 yards and 1 yard in the first quarter and 10 yards to seal it in the final period.
With the win, Daegu (1-3) evened its record in the Division II title chase at 1-1. Osan fell to 0-3 overall and in D-II, all but falling out of the chase for a bid in the championship game Nov. 10.
“Now, we have to win next week, then pull for Zama,” Walter said. His Warriors host Robert D. Edgren next Saturday, Daegu travels to Osan on Oct. 12, then Zama visits Edgren on Oct. 5 and hosts the Eagles on Oct. 19.
The Warriors broke out of the gate quickly Friday, scoring on their first three possessions in the game’s first 8 minutes, 27 seconds. The Cougars promptly rallied, cutting it to 19-15 at half on touchdown runs of 9 yards by T.J. Busano and 12 by E Jay Bassham.
But it was as close as the Cougars would get. Osan’s Phillip Limb returned an interception 53 yards to set up a Cougars drive, which ended with Daniel Plourde’s missed 37-yard field-goal attempt. Osan then recovered a fumble and drove to Daegu’s 4-yard line, but Tim Ampa was stuffed on a fourth-down run.
“We went to a ‘bend-but-don’t-break’ defense (because) we don’t have a choice,” Walter said of a roster 26 players that includes 15 freshmen. “We have to play them whether they’re ready or not.”
Daegu also changed its offense a bit, using three quarterbacks at different times. “We changed it to suit the players we have,” Walter said.
Caleb Gosserand had 131 all-purpose yards, Tim O’Houlahan rushed 10 times for 66 yards and Caleb Page 12 for 65. O’Houlahan also intercepted a pass.
Busano was Osan’s bright spot, gaining 63 yards on 13 carries. Like the Warriors, many of coach Duke Allen’s Cougars haven’t played ball before this season. “It’s tough for them to figure out what they need to do, but they’re learning,” Allen said.